Medications for Sex: Health, Functioning, & Pleasure
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Medications for Sex: Health, Functioning, & Pleasure



Sexual dysfunctions are a widely experienced issue. Erectile dysfunction affects approximately 30 million men in the United States. Additionally, 40 percent of women worldwide struggle with sexual dysfunction. Sexual problems and dysfunctions are far more common than many people realize.


Clearly, this health problem is a serious issue that affects a large portion of the population. Not only does it diminish one’s ability to enjoy sexual activity, but it can also create problems with overall health and well-being.


The good news is that lots of treatment options exist to address low sex drive and improve sexual functioning. Answered below are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding sexual medicine, erectile dysfunction, and other issues related to sexual health.



Table of Contents

(click on a question to be directed quickly)

Why may one need medication for their sexual health or sexual functioning?
Medications for Erectile Dysfunction
Medications for Premature Ejaculation
Medications for Female Sexual Pain
Medications for Chronic Vaginal Dryness
What Natural, Complementary, or Alternative Medicines work for Sexual Performance?






Why May One Need Medication for Their Sexual Health or Sexual Functioning?


Lots of people rely on medications to improve sexual functioning. If a person’s low sex drive is caused by a medical issue — such as a hormonal imbalance, breast cancer, poor blood flow, or high blood pressure — medication may help to correct these issues and make their sex life more enjoyable.


Medications for sex are also not just for older people. There are many reasons why younger people may use medication to help improve their sex life. This can include performance anxiety, physical limitations following an accident or surgery, or due to chronic illness.




Medications for Erectile Dysfunction


Erectile dysfunction (or ED) is a medical condition in which an individual is unable to achieve or maintain an erection that is firm enough for satisfactory sexual activity.


The causes can be physical or psychological. If the causes are psychological, common courses of treatment can include therapy for anxiety, couples counseling, or therapy for past sexual trauma. If the causes are physical, there are medication solutions.


It’s common for doctors and other professionals who offer medical advice to recommend medication for those who struggle with erectile dysfunction. The following are some of the most frequently prescribed ED drugs:


  • Sildenafil (Brand name Viagra)
  • Vardenafil (Brand names Levitra, Staxyn)
  • Tadalafil (Brand name Cialis)
  • Avanafil (Brand name Stendra)


These medications improve blood flow by enhancing the effectiveness of nitric oxide, a chemical that relaxes the muscles of the penis.




Medications for Premature Ejaculation


Premature Ejaculation (PE) is when a man has an orgasm and ejaculates earlier than he and/or his partner would like. While all men may experience a rapid ejaculation or orgasm during sex, it becomes PE when it happens regularly.


This problem affects between 30 and 40 percent of men, but some medications can correct it, including the following:


  • Antidepressants (Lexapro, Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac, Sarafem): In addition to combating symptoms of depression, they may delay ejaculation as a side effect.
  • Analgesics (Tramadol): A painkiller that delays ejaculation as a side effect.
  • Erectile dysfunction medications (, Cialis): These medications may prevent premature ejaculation in addition to improving symptoms of ED.



Sexual Medicine


Medications for Female Sexual Pain


One of the most common female sexual health issues is sexual pain.


This is a common symptom of Female Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (or HSSD), which affects approximately 10 percent of women. Other symptoms include a deficiency in or an absence of sexual fantasies and sexual desire, which result in distress and interpersonal difficulties.


For those who are struggling with sexual pain and HSSD, the following medications can be beneficial:


  • Ospemifene (Brand name Osphena): This drug has an estrogen-like effect on the vaginal lining.
  • Prasterone (Intrarosa): A capsule that’s placed inside the vagina daily.




Medications for Chronic Vaginal Dryness


Chronic vaginal dryness is another common female sexual health issue.


Vaginal dryness can be caused by hormonal issues like low estrogen, which is brought on by situations like childbirth, breastfeeding, cancer treatments (radiation and chemotherapy). Medications used to treat endometriosis and uterine fibroids can cause vaginal dryness, too.


There are several medications for women who need help with chronic vaginal dryness, including the following:


  • Vaginal estrogen cream (Brand names Estrace, Premarin): A cream inserted into the vagina with an applicator at bedtime.
  • Vaginal estrogen suppositories (Brand name Imvexxy): Low-dose suppositories inserted daily into the vaginal canal.
  • Vaginal estrogen ring (Brand name Estring, Femring): A soft, flexible ring inserted into the upper part of the vagina that releases a consistent dose of estrogen.
  • Vaginal estrogen tablet (Brand name Vagifem): A vaginal estrogen tablet inserted into the vagina.




What Natural, Complementary, or Alternative Medicines Work for Sexual Performance?


In addition to prescription medications, other natural, complementary, and alternative therapies can improve sexual performance. Working with a sex therapist — a professional who specializes in sex therapy, a form of psychotherapy that addresses concerns regarding sexual function and intimacy — is an effective approach that has become more popular in recent years.


Other natural treatments include:


  • Dietary changes: This study published by JAMA Network Open found that men who ate a Mediterranean diet were less likely to develop ED.
  • Stopping smoking: Frequent smoking is associated with an increased risk of developing ED.
  • Ginkgo Biloba: This is an herbal remedy that has been shown in this study published by Elsevier to act as a natural aphrodisiac.






Abraham, C., (2020). Experiencing Vaginal Dryness? Here’s What You Need to Know.

Allahdadi, K. J., Tostes, R. C., & Webb, R. C. (2009). Female sexual dysfunction: therapeutic options and experimental challenges. Cardiovascular & Hematological Agents in Medicinal Chemistry (Formerly Current Medicinal Chemistry-Cardiovascular & Hematological Agents)7(4), 260-269.

Bauer, S. R., Breyer, B. N., Stampfer, M. J., Rimm, E. B., Giovannucci, E. L., & Kenfield, S. A. (2020). Association of Diet With Erectile Dysfunction Among Men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. JAMA network open3(11), e2021701-e2021701.

Cleveland Clinic (2020). Premature Ejaculation.

Goldstein, I., Kim, N. N., Clayton, A. H., DeRogatis, L. R., Giraldi, A., Parish, S. J., … & Worsley, R. (2017, January). Hypoactive sexual desire disorder: International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH) expert consensus panel review. In Mayo clinic proceedings (Vol. 92, No. 1, pp. 114-128). Elsevier.

Kovac, J. R., Labbate, C., Ramasamy, R., Tang, D., & Lipshultz, L. I. (2015). Effects of cigarette smoking on erectile dysfunction. Andrologia47(10), 1087-1092.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Nunes, K. P., Labazi, H., & Webb, R. C. (2012). New insights into hypertension-associated erectile dysfunction. Current opinion in nephrology and hypertension21(2), 163.

West, E., & Krychman, M. (2015). Natural aphrodisiacs—a review of selected sexual enhancers. Sexual medicine reviews3(4), 279-288.






Disclaimer: ALL IN Therapy Clinic aims to improve people’s lives. We do this through providing effective mental health counseling by passionate professionals. Inspired by this, we write content for your own education. Also, our content is researched, cited, reviewed, and edited by licensed mental health professionals.  However, the information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Additionally, it should not be used in place of the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.